Length: 104 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
The late, great Gene Siskel used to say that there were two things that couldn't be explained to another person: what is sexy and what is funny. What turns a person on or makes a person laugh is totally individual and subjective; what works for one won't necessarily work for another. This was the thought running through my head as I watched the excellent concert film/tour documentary, The Comedians of Comedy. Other suckers can keep their Dane Cook and Tourgasm. These Comedians are right up my alley.
The film follows a tour of four comedians of the "alternative comedy" variety: Maria Bamford, Brian Posehn, Zach Galifianakis, and my personal favorite, Patton Oswalt. Though each is strong individually, seeing them all together only plays up their strengths: Posehn's deadpan nerdiness, Galifianakis's absurdist experimentations, Bamford's character work (she initially struck me as the Rita Rudner of the coffee house, but quickly won me over), and Oswalt's heady, angry observations are all funnier in relation to one another.
A Do-It-Yourself Approach
The tour itself (and subsequent film) is the brainchild of Oswalt. Seeing the popularity of many of the "packaged" comedy tours (The Original Kings of Comedy, The Blue Collar Comedy Tour), Oswalt set out to deliver a similar multi-comedian package. But rather than booking stadiums or comedy clubs (which, he points out, can be prohibitively expensive or age-restricted), these comics book themselves at smaller venues and rock clubs. Oswalt's goal, he points out, is to get younger fans to follow comics the way they follow bands - to watch them evolve and grow over time.
Of course, such lofty ambitions about the state-and-future of comedy only make up a tiny part of the movie's running time. Most of the film is comprised of segments from the comics' live acts, interspersed with footage of them hanging out in hotels, restaurants, and comic book shops. And while that may not seem exciting to a casual viewer, you'll be surprised at how much fun it is. The foursome is forever trying to make each other laugh and outdo one another ("The Most Independent Movie Ever Made," a simultaneous celebration of high and lowbrow humor, is a particular standout), which means they never stop being funny. It's easy to forget just how funny such truly funny people can be, even in their off hours. The Comedians of Comedy reminds us.
DVD Bonus Material
On the flip side of the disc is its best bonus feature: the full-length presentation of the tour's final concert, Live at the El Rey. The program itself, which runs just under an hour, features Bamford, Posehn, and Oswalt (Galifianakis was doing a limited run on the tour), each doing about 20 minutes apiece. Bob Odenkirk of Mr. Show is also on hand to deliver an "introduction" of sorts, which is really an incisive and hilarious indictment of the whole "alternative comedy" scene. The feature contains some overlapping material from the film, but often proves to be even funnier when in the proper context.
The DVD also contains several other worthwhile extras, including deleted scenes, footage from a "rehearsal tour," and the making of Galfianakis's chair-breaking epic. Also included is something called "Comedians to Pay Attention To," which is really just two minute bits from six different up-and-coming comics (most of which are mentioned by Oswalt and Bamford during an interview in the film). None are as funny as the Fab Four, but it's a nice touch and a testament to just how comedy-minded the filmmakers and producers of the DVD really are.
- Release Date: January 30, 2007
- Running Time: 104 minutes
- Full Frame Presentation (1.33:1)
- English Dolby Digital 2.0
- Studio: Anchor Bay
- Live at the El Rey Concert Film
- Making-of Featurette: "The Most Important Movie Ever Made"
- Deleted Scenes
- Rehearsal Tour
- Comedians to Pay Attention To